One of the biggest mistakes people make with their money is getting on the “new car” treadmill. Buying and leasing not withstanding, it can be a real budget buster. However, there is a limit to frugality. At some point the old car just outlives it’s usefulness..doesn’t it? Well, I for one, have been informed by my better half, Tracy, that maybe time isn’t as urgent as it seems. In fact, my buddy Jim has taken this frugality to an extreme with over 400,000 miles on his Chevy truck! This makes the nearly 200,000 we have on our own ‘Black Betty’, my wife’s ’98 Chevy Tahoe, make her seem like a mere teenager. But it wasn’t really the 400k that made me realize we needed to keep Betty in action, and it wasn’t even the obvious financial benefit. No, it was this little love letter to keeping old things in action, and the value of an old friend that really put me over the top.
Me n’ Old Black Betty been together nigh on 14 years. Starting to show her age a little, with rust on the back end, cold air blowing instead of hot, torn up seats. A lot of her parts have been replaced. 173,000+ miles on the old girl. My old Tahoe. Today I had to get up early for a meeting in downtown Flint. Got a few inches of snow last night, and the wind was still whipping. Not much plowed, and what was had already started covering again. As I was getting ready to leave, Gary said, “Are you sure you should go out in the truck?” I looked at him with a steely eye, “Are you kidding? This is what Black Betty exists for.” Then, I requested he put together a mixed CD of ‘70’s-ish music, good guitar riffs, heavy base, thick drums. I walked out into a gust which hit so hard it unwrapped the scarf from my neck and I barely caught it by the fringe before it sailed away. Betty had been warming up, snow piled up high around her. Nestling my hot coffee in the holder, I slipped the CD into the slot, kicked her into four wheel, and backed down the driveway. Lido Shuffle popped on. Not bad, Gary. I plowed through the snow-covered street, heading toward the expressway. As I turned onto the ramp, that first riff of Steve Miller’s Jet Airliner started and I cranked up the speakers. You know what I’m sayin’. I pulled past one of them lil’ ol’ KIA’s, making sure she got a good look at my faded bumper sticker from 9/11 that only says one word, now: “American”. Ain’t that right. Black Betty got a little excited, decided she wanted to fly in the left lane. The lane that still had that thick, layer of messy gray snow. Boston’s Peace of Mind. I seriously cranked the stereo. Evened up next to another heavy bottomed Tahoe. We fist pumped. Yes, we did. Panels of snow were flying off the roofs of other cars, smashing Betty’s front end. Cars in the ditch. Betty hit 65 mph. Not even a flinch.
When I returned home, Betty and me, we did a few 360’s in the cul-de-sac to “Rock and Roll”. Led Zeplin, you know. Betty was practically bouncing on her big fat tires, she was in such a good mood.
First thing I said to Gary when I walked in was, “Betty kicked some ass. She’s not goin’ anywhere.”
“That’s what I thought you’d say,” he answered. You see, Gary’s been itchin’ for a new car. Not my favorite of his ideas.
Nope. I’m keepin’ my gas-guzzling, American-assembled, Big Fat Girl with her loud stereo, nicks, and dings. And her Giant. Powerful. Engine. Booyah.
written by Tracy L. Fisher, Marketing Associate